Věra Ryšavá, member of the European Working Group of People with Dementia, introduces herself and tells us why she wants to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease


My name is Vera Rysava, I am 67 years old and already retired. I didn't know much about Alzheimer's disease until I was diagnosed two years ago. If I noticed any news in the press or media, it was about the advanced stages of the disease and it was not very pleasant. I didn't recognise any symptoms myself, but my girlfriend was worried about my sometimes slightly confused behaviour. After an examination by my doctor and the subsequent diagnosis: "You have Alzheimer's", my life collapsed. After this, I experienced an internal slump - depression - then a slow finding of the ground under my feet again. Thanks to people in the Czech Alzheimer's Society, loved ones and friends, I am functioning as well as my health allows.

There has been a change in my life values: I no longer dwell on things that may have bothered me before, and I know I cannot change them. I try to live actively in the present both in my social life and in my private life. I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle than I had been and I also decided to give the nod for an interview on Czech Television. My initial fears about the interview gave way to a desire to show that people with early stage Alzheimer's are people who "function normally", feel joy, pain, fear like others and have a tremendous drive to keep living as self-sufficient a life as possible. I have to admit that I was worried about the reaction of those around me, people who know or have known me and had no idea that I have this disease.

The reaction of the people around me was mostly positive, but I felt that some people didn't know how to treat me, and showed such shyness and inhibitions on their part. I realised that it was important to talk about this illness so that people would realise that if they or anyone close to them had any problems relating to cognitive function, not to overlook them and to consult a doctor. The earlier I detect this disease, the better chance I have of living a longer, if possible self-sufficient life, with my own active life, and "delaying my loss of self“.